GENIAL GIANT: The difference between Giant and all the other entertainment magazines out there can be summed up in two words: Stephen Tobolowsky. That’s the name of the actor who played Ned Ryerson in “Groundhog Day” and Sammy Jankis in “Memento,” along with a host of other memorable bit parts. If you already knew that, it could be because you’re an “extreme entertainment enthusiast” — the term Giant founder and publisher Jamie Hooper uses to describe his intended reader. “To our guy, Stephen Tobolowsky is every bit as important as Tom Hanks or Leonardo DiCaprio,” Hooper said, somewhat improbably. The premiere issue of Giant, which hits newsstands Sept. 21, features an interview with Tobolowsky as well as a 4,000-word Q&A with actor-slash-rock deity Jack Black, who graces the cover.
Hooper last served as group publisher of Maxim, and Giant’s editor in chief, Mark Remy, was previously executive editor of Stuff. But Giant is no lad mag. “What’s happened in young men’s magazines is that they’re all joke-driven,” said Hooper. “That’s not us. We are a data- and information-driven magazine. We’re not here to make fun of people.”
This story first appeared in the August 6, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The book’s organization is inspired by the buttons on a DVD player, with sections such as Rewind (a look back at a classic band or TV series) and Pause (up-and-coming starlets whose appearance on-screen causes male viewers to freeze the frame). The theme extends even to the fashion pages, which recreate scenes from films like “The Usual Suspects” and “Midnight Cowboy.” Giorgio Armani Fragrance, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Penguin and Skechers are among the advertisers in the launch issue, which will have 50-plus ad pages and a rate base of 200,000. Unlike many independent launches, Giant is well funded — thanks to Hooper’s father-in-law, Dallas-based venture capitalist Mort Myerson, who’s ponied up more than $10 million to help out. “Our model is to be at 600,000 to 1 million [circulation] in five years,” said Hooper. “That costs money.” — Jeff Bercovici
ISN’T IT ORGANIC: Newly appointed Organic Style editor Jeanie Pyun is still earning her stripes, but that hasn’t stopped her from slapping them on the magazine’s redesigned logo. Pyun, who initially served as acting editor when Peggy Northrop skipped over to Meredith to edit More earlier this year, was formally given the reins in late June. A scant six weeks later, she’s unveiling the September issue of Organic Style, which will hit newsstands on Aug. 16, sporting a surprisingly comprehensive redesign and a new, curiously striped logo (clearly a style-of-the-moment: Country Home also has an oddly striped band on its new-look cover). The magazine’s rate base has grown by leaps and bounds — up 88 percent to 750,000 in the three years since its launch — and its ad pages are up 45 percent through September to 350.2 pages, while October looks to have a record 64 pages. As a result, it seemed unlikely that Rodale, and specifically founding editor Maria Rodale, who still holds the top slot on the masthead, would allow Pyun to tamper with the proven formula. That doesn’t seem to be the case — at least in terms of design. “Basically what we wanted to do is get the magazine message out there,” said Pyun, “to say, ‘Hey, we’re the ones who started this whole lifestyle organic movement and we should really own it.’ For starters, we didn’t want to be apologetic about the word ‘organic.’”
So, using the aesthetic equivalents of neon signs — bolder fonts! wacky stripes! — Pyun worked with the outside firm design: mw to create a logo that’s unlikely to be missed on the newsstand. A good thing, too, since only 10 percent of Organic Style readers are currently single-copy buyers. Meanwhile, another outside firm, FaheyOConnor, tackled interior pages. “The editorial content is the same,” said Pyun, “it’s just been reorganized for easier navigation.” Pyun will also be using more cover subjects that resonate with readers, including celebrities. (Alanis Morissette graced the April cover, and another celeb cover is planned for fall.) For September, supermodel Angela Lindvall is featured on the cover with a corresponding article inside on her family’s eco-friendly tugboat retreat. — Sara James
RUNAWAY JURY: Who knew middle-aged lawyers and 22-year-old women had so much in common? Jane Pratt, editor in chief of Jane magazine (which, like WWD, is owned by Advance Publications Inc.), was serving jury duty this week when she came across two unlikely readers. “The case that I was up for, it turned out that the two lawyers were fans of the magazine,” said Pratt. “They were these overweight, middle-aged guys, and they actually knew Jane. It was so bizarre.” Despite the encounter with the star-struck attorneys, Pratt was not picked for the case. “It quickly became clear that since I’m biased about everything, I was not an ideal choice.” After logging her hours at a courthouse downtown, Pratt raced back to the office at 5 p.m. to begin her day, er, night job. Wistfully, she noted, “Jury duty would’ve been a nice break from life, if that’s all you ever had to do.” — S.J.
MYNT CONDITION: The shopping magazine craze is going niche. Launching in November, a magazine called Mynt will target African-American readers age 12 to 24 with the by-now-familiar mix of product spreads and, um, product spreads. “It’s a buyer’s guide to let the kids know what’s hot,” said publisher Leonard Burnett. “These are guys that don’t just buy a pair of tennis shoes once a month — they buy once a week.” The magazine’s name is meant to suggest both cool and wealth. “It’s the idea of currency,” said Burnett, who recently became publisher of Trace magazine. “In this space, what you wear, what your accessories are, how you sport your gear is a reflection of status.” The magazine will have an initial rate base of 200,000, with distribution on newsstands as well as in Dr. Jay’s sportswear stores. Burnett, a former executive of now-defunct urban publisher Vanguarde Media, is funding the launch himself. His longtime business partner, former Vanguarde chairman Keith Clinkscales, will not have an official role in Mynt but will be involved informally, said Burnett. (The two recently started Uptown, a lifestyle title for people of color.) “Keith and I are like Lyor [Cohen] and Russell [Simmons],” he said. “Whether we’re working together directly or not, we’ll always be working together.” – J.B.